For those that really hate negotiating (particularly for yourself, at work), I decided I needed to put together a little outline to help you understand how to do it, and to get you to do it more.  Why should you?  By not engaging in negotiations at work and asking for what you want, you leave a lot on the table that could make your life better. As Linda Babcock notes, there’s a direct link between what you ask for and what you get. By not asking, you are pretty much ensuring that you aren’t getting.

Persuading, not Fighting

Get away from feeling like you are entering into a fight. What if you are just seeking an agreement to change the status quo, and your job is to persuade the other party to agree? You do persuade others to change the status quo from time to time in your daily life. Guess what?  You’re actually negotiating. But because you’re not thinking of it like a battle or a fight it is not as intimidating and you more readily engage in the conversation.


Stuart Diamond in his book Getting More says that 80% of a successful negotiation is preparation. What do reluctant negotiators in particular need to do as preparation?

Start with You

Start by being honest with yourself about what you want and why you want it. You have to be clear about why the status quo needs to be changed before you can persuade someone else to agree to it. And, understanding why you want it may help you uncover arguments. You also need to be honest about any negative feelings towards your work situation. Get any of your negative feelings out on the table now to help you self-manage in your conversation.

Plan B

Create a Plan B if you don’t get the person you are persuading to move from the status quo. Having a well-developed plan of what you will do if you don’t get an agreement makes you feel less desperate and gives you confidence, as you will feel less stuck.  A Plan B might be laying out concrete steps on how you will get to another opportunity within a year.

Your Achievements

Do think about making sure that your asks reflect market reality for yourself, your position, your region, your industry, and your company.  There’s a great post on BrazenLife that discusses (among other things) that ask needs to be “market”, so you need to do that research.  Research yourself as well. You negotiation haters often hate talking about yourselves and your boss may not actually have much of a clue about how much you do.

To help him or her, gather information on yourself and create a written profile of facts and evidence that you can share in your conversation.  Writing it down will help overcome feelings that you are making it up or boasting about yourself.

Start with re-writing your job description and note any additional tasks and responsibilities you have picked up since the last discussion with your boss (which may be since you were hired!).

What are some great things people have said about you in the past year? Review these and what you achieved to elicit the comments.

Practice Hearing Others & Communicating Your Wants

People who hate negotiating sometimes forget that they are going to be talking with other human beings, not robots. Turn them back into people by thinking about how they like to be approached and how to listen to them. How have you seen them be persuaded in the past by others? What are their needs and concerns? How can you help them?

You also don’t like asking people for things in general. To get better and more comfortable with this, you have to practice outside of work.  Practicing allows you to figure out your style, understand how you are most effective, and get used to hearing “no”. You will survive it!

Start with situations where it is easy for the other person to give you what you want, such as asking a waiter for a particular way you want your meal. Then, step it up and ask for something in a situation where it might be harder for the other person to say yes. Get a workman to come to your house when it’s convenient to you (no charge).

Finally, after running through your prep, practice asking for what you want from your boss.  Brief a trusted friend about what you think your boss is concerned about, and role play the conversation.  If you have time, switch roles and you play your boss.

You may never grow to love negotiating for yourself. But these techniques will make doing it easier, and have you leave less on the table.

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